Creating a dedicated department for equality in the union

Internal practice
Taken from NEU's webpage dedicated to equality issues
Taken from NEU's webpage dedicated to equality issues


Ongoing since 2017.

Reason it was developed

Two separate education unions have merged to form a National Education Union in 2017. With over 450,000 members, the newly formed union became much bigger and it was decided it warranted a separate equality unit. Hence, the Equality, Social Justice and International Department was established with two full-time staff members being dedicated to gender equality issues.


The focus is both on the challenges of female union members and challenges faced by girls and young women in the education systems. There is also an approach to treat gender issues in the inter-sectional way. The equality work of the union goes back to 1970s, with numerous resources being developed since. This shows the gradual increase in the recognition of the importance of gender equality issues in the union. One of the key building blocks of the union work has been the Women’s Organising Forums set up in 2016. They were set up to promote and develop the engagement of women in the Union; share and build on effective practice and advise on policy in relation to respective groups.


The work of the department is focussed on the following: • Increasing the involvement of female union members and improving their representation in the union’s positions of power; • Ensuring that the union recruits new members in an equal and gender sensitive way; • Reflecting the wider societal change and increased focus on gender equality agenda; • Promoting gender equality in education. The key challenges relate to: • Working with other departments to ensure synergies and cross-departmental work • Mainstreaming Gender Equality into all union’s activities • Improving mechanisms to monitor work of the department to see how effective it is and how best the members could be supported on equality issues.


Funded from internal union funds.


United Kingdom
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